Calamari has a long-time favorite at Turner’s year-round, offering a great option to start off your meal. Whether you like the tubes, or the tentacles or both (!) this is one of our most popular appetizers. Current preparation styles on the menu at both Turner’s in Melrose and Salem include our popular cherry-pepper calamari, buffalo calamari and our classic fried calamari. Many of our seasonal specials have also featured calamari, including grilled calamari as a salad topper and bruschetta-style calamari which was served over the holiday season last year.
All our calamari at Turner’s is made with locally caught squid from Point Judith, Rhode Island. The species Loligo pealeii, or Longfin Inshore Squid, is a remarkable creature that has been studied in great depth for it’s adaptive capabilities and resilience in thriving in often hostile ocean environments. Loigo pealeii also has a specialized nervous system that has been closely analyzed, contributing to our understanding of our own bodies and nervous systems.
Squid belongs to the cephalopod group of mollusks of the phylum Mollusca. Morphologically, Loligo’s body is shaped like a typical squid’s body, with fins, a “mantle” containing internal organs, a “head” with two large eyes, and “arms” and tentacles which are covered with rows of suckers that allow the animal to grab onto prey. The fins on a squid undulate in rhythmic patterns allowing the squid to glide easily throughout the water column. Watching these fins can be somewhat mesmerizing- they give the animal a distinct charm and allow them an incredible level of maneuverability in all directions. This makes them stand apart from many of their fellow sea creatures, which for the most part are only capable of a general unilateral movement pattern. The mantle or body of the squid forms a hard protective shell around the animal’s vital organs and adds to its unique shape. A squid’s eyes are very large in comparison to the rest of its body and they are also incredibly complex, allowing for very sharp vision. Squid also have ten limbs, only two of which are called tentacles. These two limbs are longer than the other eight and are used to capture prey. With incredible dexterity, each of the suckers on these ten limbs can be controlled individually by the squid’s brain. Some are even lined with teeth!
One of the most striking characteristics of this unique animal is it’s ability to change skin color, pattern, and even texture rapidly to blend with the surrounding environment. Highly specialized pigmented cells on the surface of the squid’s skin called Chromatophores. You can learn more about how squid and similar animals are able to rapidly change their skin color by clicking here.
Logilo winters offshore in the deep waters of the northwest Atlantic. In late spring, the animal moves inshore to lay eggs. After mating, the male squid stays with the female, swimming alongside her until she deposits an egg capsule. The average lifespan of Logilo is approximately one year.
The main commercial fishing technique used to catch squid is jigging, which involves dropping a lure in the water and bouncing it up and down rhythmically to mimic the movements of typical squid prey. because squid are drawn to bright objects, the lures used often have several lights attached and the fishing is done at night. Fishing for squid can be quite fun- the intuitive animal will swim up to the light on the lure and study it by circling it and checking it out with its huge eyes before deciding whether or not to take a bite. There are also special kinds of nets that can be used to catch squid.
So next time you sit down to enjoy a portion of your favorite style of calamari, take a minute to appreciate this unique species- and then chow down and enjoy!!